Brackish Water is the fourth of the Angus Green novels I’ve read by Neil S. Plakcy, and it’s the one where the series flaws are becoming more apparent.
The strongest aspect of every book has been the mystery and FBI agent Angus Green’s ability to connect with the people involved in the crimes, usually on the hazy end of the spectrum of right and wrong, probably the criminal side, those that may be gay, and need someone to speak for them. That and the crimes are the best part, along with the location of southern Florida in all its messy ways.
That continues here. The art world, the Cuban connection, the plight of the people fleeing Cuba only to find out that they are turning back. It’s dishearteningly sad and believable in this well written storyline.
But what removes the reader from the terrific mystery and its layered narrative is Angus himself and his increasingly wooden relationship with his lover Lester. It started out in the previous stories as just a few lines, then filler paragraphs so a reader could ignore the lack of written chemistry or anything other than a one-dimensional storyline that existed for Lester and Angus.
Only now Plakcy seems resolved to make this a new solid element and it’s feels like an interminable boring couple has entered the building.
Nothing is believable about them. There’s absolutely zero emotion involved. That includes the reader.
Least of all from Angus who is out to save many people and do right by others. Yet when it come to Lester? It’s a flattened version of Angus we hear from.
Oddly mechanical, dispassionate in his approach towards his boyfriend, Lester, viewing him in emotionally distant terms often more suitable for a catalog swimsuit model or hookup rather than someone you’re supposed to love. This element of the Angus Green series has become increasingly problematic as the relationship between Angus and Lester has become more serious, at least on the page.
We hear about Lester’s body, his bedroom skills, his body parts, on and on. Then here, turns out he knows about art. Then Angus doesn’t agree with how Lester handle’s money. But he sure likes his body. I’m very tired of them whenever they get together, honestly. It’s a one-sided perspective and it’s always the same. A one-dimensional relationship with zero dynamics.
And it removes the reader from the mystery.
You start to wish someone would kill off Lester and reinvigorate the series and poor old Angus.
Something needs to. It’s looking pretty dreary.
Plakcy is capable of writing excellent dialogue, seating his characters and storylines deep within his chosen locales. When it all connects, it’s magical. See his Mahu series.
It hasn’t happened here. Not sure it will. But I do see flashes of it in Angus Green and Southern Florida. Just not enough.
Angus Green series:
✓ The Next One Will Kill You #1
✓ Nobody Rides For Free #2
✓ Survival Is A Dying Art #3
✓ Brackish Water #4
Brackish Water: An Angus Green Novel
FBI Special Agent Angus Green returns to the world of stolen art when a Cuban refugee uses the location of an old master painting to negotiate for his freedom. The perilous waters along Florida’s coastline get easily breached by those smuggling drugs, stolen goods, and human refugees. Angus wades in eagerly, as always, only to discover hidden currents and dangerous obstacles.
At the same time, Angus’s romantic life is heating up as it presents new challenges, and his stepfather’s death gives his mother the opportunity to tell Angus the truth about his parentage in a way that completely rocks his boat.
From gnarled mangrove roots to deadly villains, people and places stand in Angus’s way to keeping his head above water.
Can Angus navigate the brackish waters of the Florida Keys– and political privilege– while staying within the law?
Angus Green [is] the affable hero of this brisk series launch set in South Florida … readers will look forward to seeing a lot more of Angus. Publishers Weekly on The Next One Will Kill You